PTA to conduct quality of service survey for 3G/4G
As various mobile operators are rolling out their 3G/4G services through out the country, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is preparing to conduct a quality of service and quality of experience survey to make sure these services are on par with industry standards. PTA has just recently completed its first round of staff training for effective monitoring of QoS parameters and has also purchased a solution from a Finnish company for this purpose. The survey is to be held at the end of 2014 as it is too early right now to conduct any such surveys (CMOs have only just started rolling out their services in the major cities of Pakistan).
The Chairman of PTA, Dr. Ismail Shah has said in a statement,
“This (Finnish) solution would enable the PTA to monitor licensed QoS key performance indicators of 3G and 4G networks to ensure that quality standards are met and users get the services at anticipated quality standards…”
The 3G/4G roll out is divided into phases by PTA and the first phase is to be completed nine months from the date of award of the license (23rd April 2014). The licensed cellular mobile operators have to ensure a minimum of 20% coverage of at least five cities including federal and provincial capitals.
The training for the QoS survey was held at PTA’s headquarters in Islamabad and was targeted at a small number of PTA officials who would report back to their regional zones and train their own teams, ahead of the survey at the end of this year.
“Our staff has just completed basic training and needs more time before conducting the first QoS survey for 3G and 4G,” Dr. Ismail further elaborated.
However, in case of failure to meet benchmarks and rollout obligations, PTA will penalize the CMOs in the following manner. PTA withholds $15 million from the operators under a performance bond. This money is released in installments each year when the CMOs complete their rollout obligations. However, this amount can be withheld and the QoS survey structure has room for additional penalties when it comes to the quality of service rendered by CMOs.
What is a good standard of experience and speed for 3G services?
“For 3G services, 1 Mbps should be a good speed while for 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, we will be hoping for a minimum 2 Mbps,” a government official said on condition of anonymity. “However they (CMOs) should be able to provide 5 mbps in case of LTE services.”
While all mobile operators are quite enthusiastically marketing their high speed mobile services, at the end of the day only actual user experience and the results of the QoS survey will be able to determine how well the CMOs are implementing their coverage plans. They must deliver top notch services in order to satisfy their users and avoid the PTA fine- the damage to reputation will be more of an issue than the financial loss in case of failing the QoS survey.